YEU: Yukon Government Should Have Done More to Keep Many Rivers Afloat

    Many Rivers previously provided mental wellness services in multiple Yukon communities.

    Yukon Employees Union members say the Yukon government could've done more to keep Many River Counselling Services operating in territorial communities.

    Yukon Employees Union President Steve Geick says the Yukon government hasn't done enough to help keep Many Rivers Counselling Services afloat in territorial communities.

    The organization's board announced that Many Rivers would be closing it's doors for good late last week — particularly since government funding has dried up and because the organization is hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt.

    Geick says it's unacceptable that Yukon government representatives didn't know the organization was is non-compliance with the Yukon Societies Act until last summer, which prevented the organization from receiving further government funding.

    "Two government ministers didn't even know that Many Rivers was in non-compliance until June or July of last year when the issue was brought up in the house. They're obviously not doing their due diligence with the oversight of those finances."

    Geick says it's unfortunate the Yukon government has put the new board in such a difficult financial situation.

    "There appears to have been some mismanagement of funds from the past board and executive director. Now, that (issue) is being put on the new board. While I understand it's the same society, they're not going to offer them any funds because they're in debt. Well, without any funds they can't repay the debt. A letter from the Deputy Minister of Health and Social Services quoted that the board owes $500,000, which is very disturbing." 

    The Yukon government says some reasons why the board isn't receiving more funding is because they've failed to remain in their operating budget and because they've failed to pay back money owed from rented office space.

    Geick says it's been difficult for patients to receive similar services in Yukon communities following the closure of services.

    "People  have been without the counselling services for ten months. Where are they going to get the services? That's the sad part about this. There's people suffering who could be facing life or death situations. That's where we're sitting right now and it's very unfortunate."

    Yukon Government Health and Social Services Communications Director Patricia Living say however that similar mental health services have been provided in rural Yukon communities the whole time. 

    The Yukon government announced last week that it would be providing a new delivery model for mental wellness services throughout the territory. While Many Rivers sent out a bid for the tender, The Canadian Mental Health Association, All Genders Yukon and the Yukon government's Mental Wellness and Substance Use Service branch were named as the new providers.

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